What’s New February 2012

This page lists changes to this site for February 2012.

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It has long been known that advertisers will “photoshop” (slang for editing photos to touch up or airbrush out imperfections) photos to make the subject more attractive. But many have pointed out that this subtle manipulation often goes too far. Young people, girls in particular, are bombarded with images of how they are supposed to look, contributing to many social and health problems as a result.

The American National Advertising Division (the US advertising industry’s self-regulating watchdog) for example, recently moved to ban the misleading use of photoshopping and enhanced post-production in cosmetics adverts as it could be too misleading. In the UK some adverts have been banned because the effects of airbrushing has resulted in very misleading cosmetic adverts. France has even considered legislation to explicitly identify retouched images.

Some will claim it is up to parents to teach their children how to recognize these things, but parents cannot often win against an army of professional psychologists, marketers and others all focused on pushing their own images onto children, when studies also say that children are not old enough tell the difference between commercial and other content.

This page has been updated to add a section about this issue with further links, videos and examples.

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US campaign financing rules have been relaxed even further in recent years, making a worrying problem about the state of American democracy worse (because those with money have even more ability to try and buy votes or influence policy).

Media coverage of this issue, though it may pop up from time to time, seems quite limited. Perhaps because it is estimated that television stations this year could make as much as eight billion dollars from political campaigns.

The state of US mainstream media has unfortunately been lamentable for many years, and after the issues around hurricane Katrina, it was thought that the media would be rejuvenated. Unfortunately it does not seem that way.

This page has been updated with further information about campaign financing issues and how limits in the US have been lifted making the problem worse. Also added were notes on US press freedom, and an info graphic on media ownership concentration.

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